Vaping incidents prevalent at Monroe High School
MONROE — In the first 38 days of school, 50 Monroe High School students have been suspended for vaping or drug possession on campus.
The news was delivered to MHS parents through the school’s weekly newsletter along with a plea from Principal Ed Crow for parents to talk their students about the dangers of vaping and the importance of following school policies.
Of the 50 suspensions, 40 were related to vaping and 10 to drug possession. District officials were unable to provide a breakdown by press time on which drugs were involved for the 10 drug possession suspensions.
Currently, vaping infractions are administered using the school district’s policy for drug violations, spokeswoman Tamara Krache said. The district is currently reevaluating its policies in collaboration with the Snohomish Health District, Krache said.
“A majority of offenses this year have been first time offenses. With the first time offense, it is three days of what the school district calls “in-school suspension” with the option to reduce to one if they agree to have a one on one meeting with our drug and alcohol counselor participating in what is called the SPORT intervention model,” Krache said in an email. Suspensions for subsequent substance use or vaping may typically go up to 10 days but may be shorter or longer depending on mitigating or aggravating factors.
The goal of the policy is to educate students, Krache said.
School officials and experts are concerned about the prevalence of vaping.
“Vaping often delivers very large doses of nicotine, which increases the likelihood of dependence and addiction,” Crow wrote. “Addiction to nicotine due to vaping is the most common reason students seek help and services from our school intervention specialist.”
Vape liquids also release unsafe levels of lead, chromium, manganese and nickel, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.
Use of the inexpensive and easy-to-conceal devices is particularly high in Monroe. The 2016 Healthy Youth Survey showed 29 percent of MHS seniors had vaped, compared to about 20 percent of their Snohomish County and Washington State peers. Students completed the biannual survey again about three weeks ago; those results will be available in the spring.
MHS is in the beginning stages of planning a town hall-like discussion and presentation on vaping by school counselor Chris Jury.
Evidence based alcohol and other drug prevention programming begins in kindergarten in the Monroe School District, Krache said. The district also offers small groups and one-on-one support as needed.
The district has also begun testing out the PAX Good Behavior Game, which teaches students skills related to self-control, at Maltby Elementary.
When Monroe students vape, they aren’t necessarily vaping at school according to the 2016 survey. Eight percent of Monroe 10th and 12th graders admitted they vaped on campus in the voluntary study, compared to six percent of 10th graders and 10 percent 12th graders statewide.
The Everett and Snohomish school districts both have vaping-specific policies. Both districts also suspend students for vaping.
As of Nov. 1, six Glacier Peak students and three Snohomish High School students had been suspended for vaping. The Everett school district was unable to provide data on suspensions by press time.
In Snohomish, students typically receive a 5 day suspension for the first offense, and 10 for a second offense. Suspensions may be trimmed to two days if the student undertakes a tobacco-related alternative to suspension program.
Everett students who violate the vaping policy receive a two day suspension for a first offense which can be cut to one day if they complete an alcohol and drug education program. Second
offenses trigger a two-day “in-school” suspension.
The Monroe School District invites people who live or work in Monroe to participate in their annual adult community survey at www.tinyurl.com/MonroeSurveyEnglish in English
or www.tinyurl.com/Monroe SurveySpanish to take it in Spanish.
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